Crispin Blunt MP met with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) this week to continue to press for urgent changes to the Gatwick westerly departure flight path following ongoing delays to implement a solution.
The CAA has taken longer than expected to conduct a review of the introduction in 2014 of satellite precision-area navigation (PR-NAV) technology on Gatwick departures. The changes led to an increase in flights overflying south Reigate and Redhill, and an explosion of complaints from residents newly affected by noise pollution. Over 15,000 people responded to the CAA’s public consultation on the implementation of PR-NAV at Gatwick, a sign of the strength of feeling on the issue.
The CAA Board has finally completed the review and adopted a recommendation on departure Route 4 to essentially shift the point at which aircraft take the turn and to fly further south of Reigate and Redhill, keeping planes within the long-established Noise Preferential Route. This recommended change will not be a simple reversion to the old system, but will use the new satellite based technology to replicate the old pattern of take-offs.
The change is expected to come into effect by the end of the year.
Crispin Blunt commented:
“Not before time there is movement towards a solution for those residents who last year found their homes and gardens being overflown by planes taking off from Gatwick.
“It is extremely disappointing that it has taken until now to get a decision to change this departure route which has caused misery for residents living underneath this concentrated flight path. When I met the CAA in March, they were confident that a solution could be implemented before the end of the summer.
“The noise pollution has been so horrendous on the concentrated take-off route over south Reigate and Redhill that thousands of local people have been submitting complaints to the CAA and Gatwick’s Noise Line.
“Gatwick Airport must not waste any time in coming forward with a proposal to implement the CAA’s recommended change. I understand that this is ready but has to be flight tested and incorporated into airlines’ flight schedules for pilots. Assuming there are no more hiccups, this should be done by mid-November. But with the experience of disappointing delays in process, by the CAA not devoting sufficient resources to assess the substantial reaction from residents, and in Gatwick Airport coming forward with a technically sound "fix", I would be pleasantly surprised if this is done in time for Christmas.
“My priority is to see that the change come into effect as quickly as possible. Relief for local residents is urgently needed without impacting another group as badly. Whilst the change should be an improvement, I am still concerned that the new flight path will be highly concentrated.
“I want to continue to monitor the impact of this and other concentrated PR-NAV satellite based routes and ensure that Government policy provides for greater dispersal and multiple respites for affected areas so as to alleviate aviation noise on local communities.”
Latest statement by the CAA - click here.